How Much Exercise Do You Really Need?

Even a little exercise may bring you big health benefits.

By Colette Bouchez
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Feature

Reviewed By Brunilda Nazario, MD

You say you don't have time to exercise? You're hardly alone. For many people, lack of time is the single biggest obstacle to fitness. But, experts say, you may be overestimating how much exercise you really need to get at one time. Instead of investing an hour at the gym, what if you could get fitter with 10 minutes here, 10 minutes there through your day?

There's building evidence that short but frequent bouts of exercise can yield plenty of health benefits. Consider the following fitness findings:

  • A study published by the American Journal of Sports Medicine in 2006 showed that short walks after dinner were more effective than long exercise sessions in reducing the amount of fat and triglyceride levels in the bloodstream after a hearty meal.
  • Research published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health showed that short bouts of exercise helped lower blood pressure as well as shave inches off the hips and waistline.
  • In a study published in Preventive Medicine in 2006, researchers found that multiple workout sessions as short as 6 minutes apiece could help sedentary adults reach fitness goals similar to those achieved by working out for 30 minutes at a time.
  • In a finding published in the journal Psychopharmacology, doctors found that short bursts of exercise could help reduce the craving for cigarettes and help people quit smoking.